The political yo-yo between PM Ramgoolam (NCR) and Leader of the Opposition Berenger (PRB) went on for two dreary long months; up one minute, down the next. Announcements, especially from PRB, made in the morning, were contradicted in the afternoon. Last weekend, the tragi-comedy apparently came to a definite end.
But whilst this grotesque show was (is still?) centre stage, Democracy has had to take a back seat. Not only has Parliament been prorogued, but also the official Opposition seems to have forgotten that the people pay it to “oppose” the Government, and not act as if it were its paid spokesman. Plus anti-democratique que tous ces grimaces, tu meurs!
And tragically, whilst all this shenanigan was taking place, not a single whimper from the soporific admirable people, thus tacitly condoning this indecent, antidemocratic manoeuvre by both the LP and MMM supremos.
So, if the so-called Electoral Reform/Second Republic project has indeed crashed, then every right thinking person in the land must be rejoicing now. Not only are these things very premature, but they are also wrong because they only pander to the inflated egos and grandiose ambition of just two men!
Reform of this nature should normally be decided/approved by the people through nothing less than a comprehensive Referendum, and never through a private negotiation between two OAPs (Old Age Persons) hell-bent on having a last taste of power as they approach the end of their political careers.
Of course, any objection has to be based on firm analysis. At first glance, the 10 percent rule sounded a good idea. For sure it would get rid of the small parties, and their nuisance value. Therefore, since the LP and the MMM can count on roughly 45 percent of the popular votes each, we would subsequently end up with a strong two-party democracy like we find in the advanced democracies — with the remaining 10 percent making up the floating component.
Wonderful thought! But upon further reflection, one comes to the conclusion that the NCR/PRB arrangement would have been wonderful for the two men only, in particular to PRB; their bequest would leave the worst possible scenario for the nation. Please don’t get me wrong: It would probably have been perfect if we were a homogeneous people. However for better or for worse we are not, nor can we wish this awkward fact away.
Calling a spade a spade, a simple analysis of the electorate shows that the LP’s vote bank lies with the Hindu majority while the MMM can normally count on the Creole/Muslim/Tamil minorities. If elections are presently influenced by caste/ethnic considerations to a certain degree, the dangers of ethnic politics are there for all to see around the world. Mad, bad idea!
Whilst coalition politics is not perfect, it has given stability to the country, and the nation has prospered as a consequence. The advent of ethnic politics would be a real danger to this very stability and prosperity. Why, it may in due course lead to civil strife — because there are always enough hotheads who want to stir trouble.
There is a very wise Americans saying that goes ”if it ain’t broken, don’t mend it!” As a trained medical doctor, the PM knows that sometimes the best action is to do nothing for the patient, except perhaps give him a few vitamin pills so that he does not leave the surgery disappointed and empty-handed.
Thus at present, all that is required is a simple tweak to the Constitution that would comply with the UN ruling that prospective candidates should not have to declare their community when presenting themselves for election to Parliament. From thereon it can’t be beyond the ability of the Electoral Commission to come up with another method of allocating the 8 Best Loser seats.
The new dawn?
Far be it for little old me to give any lessons to the erudite but, if the good doctor really wishes to bequeath a healthy and equitable system that generations would bless him for, there are a number of people who think that he should completely ignore the REHASH proposed by the bodge-jobs (Carcassonne, Sachs, Sithanen and others) and have a long talk with Joseph Tsang Man King about endowing the country with smaller single-member constituencies, with one-man-one vote.
Being a man who believes in the sacred tenets of Democracy and who has the welfare of the country at heart, I am pretty sure he knows it makes sense.
PS. For reference, there is my own humble contribution on the subject (MT 08-Apr-2010 and 26-Oct-2012)
* Published in print edition on 20 June 2014
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